Qualcomm revealed more than 35 operators and equipment manufacturers from around the globe have committed to use its X50 modem for 5G trials and product launches in the coming two years.
A total of 18 operators, including AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, SK Telecom, Sprint, Verizon and Vodafone will use the X50 chipset and mobile reference design in sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G trials due to begin this year. The live tests in 2018 and early 2019 will set the stage for standards-based commercial 5G deployments in 2019, Qualcomm said.
The company also locked in partnerships with 19 OEMs, which have pledged to use the X50 modem for 5G New Radio (NR) product launches starting in 2019. At a media and analyst event, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon said “virtually all” OEMs are designing their products around X50, including Asus, HMD Global, HTC, Inseego (the holding company of Novatel Wireless), LG Electronics, Netgear, Oppo, Sharp, Sierra Wireless, Sony Mobile Communications, Vivo, Xiaomi and ZTE.
In a statement, Izumi Kawanishi, EVP and director of Sony Mobile Communication’s product business group, said the company is aiming to use Qualcomm’s 5G chip technology to help deliver enhanced communication and entertainment experiences in its Xperia product line “in the coming years”. HMD Global, HTC, LG, Oppo and Vivo expressed similar goals.
While the list of vendors is comprehensive, big names Samsung, Apple and Huawei were notable by their absence. Apple’s omission is likely no surprise given an ongoing patent spat between Qualcomm and the vendor. Samsung, meanwhile, announced a deal covering a wide range of technologies earlier this week (albeit the X50 was not specifically mentioned in the agreement).
Amon said all manufacturers around the world have “decisions to make” about whether to bet on the value of 5G in the short term or wait for the ecosystem to further mature.
“The choices for multi-sourcing becomes a secondary choice where technology leadership and the stability of the solution become a primary choice,” he said.
Transitioning to 5G
With operators, manufacturers and the chipset vendor aligned, Qualcomm SVP and GM of 4G/5G, smart cities and industrial IoT Serge Willenegger said “all the key elements” are in place “for perfect assembly of 5G in 2019”.
Amon noted the activity Qualcomm expects this year gives it “100 per cent confidence” 5G rollouts will become a reality in 2019. Durga Malladi, Qualcomm’s SVP of engineering and corporate R&D, added mobile broadband will drive initial adoption, but said many more use cases will begin to pop up as the technology matures in the 2020 timeframe.
By 2020, Amon said volumes will ramp to make 5G a significant contributor to business for Qualcomm and other ecosystem partners.